From Rotimi Agboluaje, Ibadan
Students protesting at the School yesterday
Student Christian Movement of Nigeria (SCM), Osun/Oyo Sector has expressed its displeasure at the crisis that broke out at the International School, Ibadan over the wearing of hijab by female Muslim students.
IAccording to thePresident of Oyo/Osun Sector of SCM, Dr. Adebayo Kolade, the development is not only shocking giving the liberal atmosphere created by the University of Ibadan in its environs and Nigeria because of its place as prim university but also the sowing of the seeds of “a rebellious strain of religious extremism is trying to take root in the UI community (of all places!).”
In a statement by the organisation’s State Mobilization Officer of the SCM in Oyo and Osun state, Dare Ajongbo, the Christian body queried the intent and timing of the action demonstrated by the students.
SCM said: “We received with shock, the news of the disruption of academic activities at the International School, University of Ibadan on account of the forceful introduction of hijab by some Muslim parents on Monday November 12, 2018.
“While the incident may, on the surface, appear like an internal affair of the University community, we are constrained to react for a number of reasons.
“First, the University of Ibadan is arguably the most notable institution in the city of Ibadan. Whatever happens there has a way of impacting the city of Ibadan and beyond. It had been said in the past that “when UI sneezes, Nigeria catches cold.” Secondly, the timing of the “self-help” by these Muslim parents is quite suspicious. Why would religious disaffection be brought to fore during the very week that the University of Ibadan is celebrating her 70th Anniversary, and playing host to her Chancellor, His Eminence Sa’ad Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto – the Number 1 Muslim in Nigeria?
“Thirdly, it is curious that such a plan can still see the light of day despite the fact that both the PTA Chairman and the Chairman of the Court of Governors of the School are Muslims and have (at least) expressed their disapproval. If this is a vote of no confidence in the Islamic faith of these leaders, then we must be alarmed that a rebellious strain of religious extremism is trying to take root in the UI community (of all places!).”
The body recalled that hijab wearing in schools has been a thorny issue, especially here in South West Nigeria, saying ,”Historically, school uniforms were introduced as a tool to obliterate differences of economic class, tribe, religion, etc., among impressionable minds as children gather in schools.
“For a nation in need of unity, the school uniform helps to shield these young minds from the impact of various adornments that fuel segregation in society; it makes them to see fellow students as equal; not different, superior or inferior. Any alteration in adornment that makes the school uniform to be no longer uniform therefore assaults/destroys the core essence of the idea of school uniforms”.
Student Christian Movement stated further: “The question to ask those who seek to modify school uniforms is this – why are we so intent on sowing seeds of division among our youths? Why are we so determined to emphasize what separates us? The hijab controversy has done great damage to unity amongst our children; and has to a great extent fueled segregation in our schools. Why bring it to such a distinguished environment like the university community?
“The parents who championed this unrest claim they are fighting for the fundamental human rights of their children. May we inform them that there is a sect in Christianity that does not wear shoes once they are in uniform. Were that sect to insist on enforcing their fundamental human rights, they would send their children to the International School wearing sanctified school uniforms, but without shoes! Obatala worshippers wear white – so they would also enforce their fundamental human rights by asking their children to refuse to wear the colours of ISI; and the confusion/embarrassment shall be complete and final!
“As explained by the Chairman of the Court of Governors, the ISI is a private school – meaning that parents opted to come and they paid school fees upon agreeing with the school policy! There are many hijab-wearing private schools in Ibadan. Any parent who is not happy with the dress code of ISI should simply withdraw his/her child and take him/her to another private school of choice (many of which actually exist around UI). Better still, the International School Muslim Parents Forum can buy land around UI and establish MISI – Muslim International School, Ibadan – and save our children this perennial exposure to religious conflict that threatens to damage their impressionable minds and further divide our nation”.